Monday, 1 February 2010

Feeder fun

It's been years since I last visited Weir Wood Reservoir. Last Sunday, after aikido, we decided to go and see what was there. The reservoir is just west of some of the nicest parts of Ashdown Forest, and took a surprisingly long time to reach from Bromley despite my stunningly good navigation. When we got there we found a view out onto a corner of the long, thin reservoir (numerous distant Pochards and Tufties), and a hide which gave great views of a well-attended feeding station. It therefore became a day of feeder photography, with more than a dozen species to-ing and fro-ing, but we concentrated on the tits. Fnarrr.

 How nice to see some Marsh Tits. And it was my first chance to really put the new ID criteria (which distinguish it from Willow Tit) to the test - the two-tone white and buff cheek and the white blob on the cutting edge of the bill. Both features show up well in the photos, and I was surprised how easy it was to pick up the cheek feature while watching a frantically active bird.

Coal Tits, ever furtive, darted in when the bullying Great and Blue Tits weren't paying attention. This photo doesn't show the diagnostic wingbars or white neck patch (though you can see its whacking great bib) but it's still my favourite.

Stroppy goings-on. When either a Great or Blue Tit felt challenged by another, there was much fanning of tails, spreading of wings and irked 'chrrrr chrrr' scolding. The Blue Tit won this particular confrontation.

Two Goldfinches showed up and took their time filling up on the mixed seed mixture. There were also a few visits from Chaffinches, though these mainly foraged on the ground.

A bad photo of a Long-tailed Tit, just to prove they were there. We heard the 'prrps' and 'pings' of a flock in the nearby bushes, but only one came to the feeders and he didn't stay very long.

And finally, a special visit from the vanishingly rare 'Nuthatch-headed Peanut Snake'. Well, Rob insists that it was just a Nuthatch but I was looking at something else at the time so I can't be sure.

There were a duck and drake Mallard hoovering up spilled seed under the feeders, and every so often the two of them would crane their heads upwards, as if begging the little birds to drop them some more crumbs. I took photos of them doing this on the little camera (Rob didn't because he was using the tripod), and I'll add one to this post if/when I get round to uploading the pics (maybe). ETA - I just got round to it. The feeders are attached to this pole - I had a shot showing the whole feeding station but I prefer this close-up of the hungry ducks. Look at their yearning little faces, the poor loves.


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